2 3 Throwback Thursday and Tanaquil Le Clercq | Ballet Webb

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Throwback Thursday and Tanaquil Le Clercq

Throwback Thursday and Tanaquil Le Clercq

Known as “Tanny”, Tanaquil Le Clercq (1929-2000), was one of America’s most exquisite ballet dancers.  She was a muse to both Jerome Robbins and to her husband, George Balanchine, as well as an inspiration to many dance students and balletomanes.  She was a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, but her career ended suddenly at age 27 when she was stricken with polio.

Although she remained paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of her life, she continued to teach dance, using her arms and upper body.  Tanaquil Le Clercq died of pneumonia in 2000.  She was 71 years old.

In a strange case of irony, when she was fifteen, Balanchine choreographed a role for her in a ballet presented at  a benefit performance for the March of Dimes.  In it she portrayed a character who fell to the ground, paralyzed, until the children in the audience threw dimes at her to get her to stand up and dance again.  The charity event was designed to raise money to find a cure for polio.
Her life story will be portrayed on PBS in the series American Masters, scheduled to air in June 2014.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets:

Dance History Factoid #29:
“Tanaquil Le Clercq was a famous ballerina with the New York City Ballet.”

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Quote of the Day:

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.”
―Paulo Coelho, The Devil and Miss Prym

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